02 June 2006

Self-loving in full display

I’ve given in to requests from my wife and daughter to watch each installment of So You Think You Can Dance (American Idol, but dancing, not singing). I hate it. Wife and daughter want to know why.

“Because,” I say, “it is a showcase of the stereotypical American, someone who is certain that he is better than he truly is and can’t be told otherwise. These are people who simply have not learned to, or don’t want to, honestly appraise their own talents and skills.” Some years ago I read about a study comparing the math skills of Americans and Asians. Both were asked how they felt about their skills. The Americans expressed a high degree of confidence in their skills; the Asians (I believe they were S. Koreans) expressed a low degree. Of course, the Asians out-performed the Americans.

One contestant, upon being told that he had absolutely no talent, looked at the judge and said, “You’re lying!” (And he said it in one of those girly-sounding whiney voices that makes you want to bust them in the chops.) And he wasn’t the only one to do so—with a professional of all things.

Another contestant, when asked if he’d had any instruction whatsoever, told the judges that he didn’t need any instruction because his dancing comes from himself. There you have it. Too bad he’s not a martial artist with the same attitude. He’d find out soon the quality of what he was getting out of himself.

Three or more dance instructors have been told to give all the money back to their students, who’ve been robbed. Several others have been told to ask their dance instructors for their money back because they’ve been robbed. (One of the judges, a Brit, asks, “What is going wrong with dance, in America?” Really. And I don’t even care.)

The problem is that these are people so self absorbed that they have never compared their ability with anyone else’s. They judge themselves against themselves. They obviously have never looked at another dancer and admitted to themselves, “I can’t do that.” Probably, they have never, ever, even watched another dancer at work. They may never even have bothered to watch themselves. As one of the judges said to of the contestants: “If you could watch yourself dance, you’d stop dancing.”

I care nothing for dancing. I’ve received instruction (mostly in traditional Mexican dances, waltzing and swing made it in there also), but I don’t like it. But even I know that these people stink.

Note: Not all of these dancers are awful. Some are very good, and I’m glad to see them get a shot at a big Las Vegas break.

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James Frank Solís
Former soldier (USA). Graduate-level educated. Married 26 years. Texas ex-patriate. Ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
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